Professionals in the mental health and addiction spheres are in a precarious position as they try to balance their treatment. On one hand, it is important to be professional at all times and exhibit a very clear professional relationship with a patient in order to continue to objectively assist someone through their time in recovery. On the other hand, it is also important to be personal and personable with each person in order to establish trust, which is aided by coming across as a caring, human peer or colleague rather than give the impression of being a “white coat.” Balancing both of these personas can be a challenge, but both are necessary when it comes to helping those in need with their mental health disorders or addiction recovery.
Difficulties of Balancing Personas
Most people aren’t too keen on opening up about their addiction or mental illnesses with just anybody, despite its importance in recovery. Rather, it can be important to have a person they can trust before they begin to discuss the extent of their difficulties. This isn’t the fault of any person and it’s natural to want to feel like someone is talking to another person as an equal. As a result, it is important to approach each patient with a way to showcase that someone is more than a “white coat,” and that instead, there is a human being sitting next to them through these difficult times.
However, it is also important to demonstrate one’s professional experience in order to help someone, as it can be difficult to get someone to try a new therapeutic technique or heed their advice during the therapeutic process. While balancing these two aspects is difficult, it is also possible. However, the results won’t look the same for each person.
Know the Patient
Some patients will come into an individual therapy session with the expectation that talking to a professional is what is going to help them overcome their addiction. While these expectations will need to be managed, the patient may be expecting a rigid, clearly defined relationship that will require a very professional approach. However, there isn’t anything wrong with taking a more casual, personal approach to the therapy process. Some patients may feel an increase in their anxiety if the relationship is too formal for their comfort, which may make them feel like they are constantly being judged about their lives. During the intake process, many people may already be indicating the kind of relationship that they are expecting to have when it comes to professionals in recovery, and each therapist can use that information to create a persona that may fit the needs of each person they meet. However, this means that not only are the strategies that someone utilizes in their recovery going to be unique, but the words that the professional employs and the relationship that they create are also individually created depending on the expectations and needs of each client.
There is still a need for each professional to protect their own privacy, especially when they are dealing with very sensitive, interpersonal matters each and every day. While there may be a need for a very personal approach to therapy, that doesn’t mean that a person needs to divulge more information than the situation requires. For professionals, it is important to divulge only the information that is pertinent enough to help drive home a point. Excessively discussing personal details can not only put the privacy of the professional in jeopardy but also can compromise the therapeutic point that needs to be made.
Finding Other Ways of Expression
Expressing one’s humanity doesn’t have to come in the form of discussion. One way that someone can balance the personal and professional approaches to each client begins with their workspace. Any number of personal knick-knacks, postcards, posters, or figures that may occupy one’s desk, and even their clothes, or pins on their jackets, can all help to create a human portrait of someone without having to open their mouths. Not only can these add a personal element that may help each client feel more comfortable, but they can also act as conversation pieces. Some clients will require a conversation starter in order to chat a little bit before getting into the difficulties and trials that their addictions have had on their lives. Not only does this allow the client to choose exactly how personal they would like the relationship to be, but also allows the professional to curate what conversation pieces they are willing to talk about, and what parts of their lives that the professional would like to leave out of these relationships.
Unfortunately, there is no easy balance to strike between personal and professional personas, as each client will have different levels of comfort and different expectations about the nature of the relationship. While it is important to find a balance for each patient, it is also important to remember that not every relationship will be perfect in the recovery process. In these cases, it is important to work with the patient to help define the expectations of the recovery process to the degree that the professional is still comfortable.
No part of the recovery from drugs or alcohol is easy and each person will require a unique approach to their own recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, or any of the mental health issues that may arise, Alta Centers is here to help. With an approach to sobriety based in comfort, luxury, and fun by championing sober parties, as well as a sense of inclusion and freedom that comes with the spirit of Hollywood, Alta Centers can help you today. Each of their programs can be personalized to help you address your own goals and needs through recovery and their caring professionals can work with you each step of the way to ensure an individualized, effective start to your recovery. For more information on the various ways in which Alta Centers can help you today, or to speak to a professional about your unique situation, call us today at (888) 202-2583.